Fighting climate change at the local level means taking serious steps to reduce carbon emissions generated by buildings.

Understanding this, leading-edge cities are shifting to mandatory policies. The most powerful of these is a building performance standard (BPS).


You can also see this infographic for a short visual explanation of a BPS.


What is a Building Performance Standard?

A BPS policy can include multiple standards, each targeted to increase performance for a different aspect of a building. These can include energy, gas, and water use, as well as emissions and peak energy demand. These targets become stricter over time, driving continuous, long-term improvement in the building stock. BPS complements building energy codes; the two strategies work in tandem to improve building performance. A BPS applies to a broad swath of buildings even when they are not pulling permits. From a building owner perspective, BPS provides flexibility, as owners can use whatever technologies and operational strategies they decide are most effective and economical to meet the target.


IMT Map of US Jurisdictions with Building Performance Standards

Resources on Building Performance Standards

IMT is the leading organization working with policymakers and local stakeholders across the country in developing robust building performance standards that address not just energy use but other community priorities as well. From this in-the-field experience, we have an ever-growing suite of model documents containing best practice recommendations.

Summary of IMT’s Model Ordinance for a Building Performance Standard and Summary Presentation of IMT’s Model Building Performance Standard Ordinance
These documents provide a high-level overview of the Institute for Market Transformation’s (IMT) model ordinance for a building performance standard (BPS).

Model Ordinance for Building Performance Standards

IMT’s model ordinance is intended to provide the structural foundation for a robust, equitable BPS ordinance in any jurisdiction.

Memo: Updates to IMT’s Model Ordinance for a Building Performance Standard

This document summarizes any updates made to the model ordinance since its initial publication in January 2021.

BPS should be multi-dimensional to recognize the intersections between health, affordable housing, community resilience, and building energy use and carbon emissions. These briefs are the first in a larger series.

Building Performance Standard Module: Ventilation and Indoor Air Quality
This brief looks at interventions to improve ventilation and indoor air quality while addressing equity.

Building Performance Standard Module: Housing Affordability

This brief is meant as an introductory brief for jurisdictions working on BPS to develop strategies, policies, and programs that address housing affordability and counteract displacement in that context.

Building Performance Standard Module: Resilience

This policy brief outlines how interested jurisdictions can integrate resilience into a BPS and start to build a more holistic, equitable policy.

  • Infographic: What is a Building Performance Standard? This infographic shows how a building performance standard in your jurisdiction can benefit you and your communities. Also available in Spanish. 
  • Video: What is a Building Performance Standard? This English-language animated video explains building performance standards, a policy many local governments are using to reduce carbon emissions, decarbonize buildings, create jobs, and improve community health and wellness. Also available in Spanish. 

Looking for More Info?

As a leader in building performance policy, IMT is on the ground helping cities explore, develop, and execute these policies. At the same time, we are helping building owners and tenants participating in policy development while also identifying and overcoming barriers to improving their buildings ahead of compliance deadlines. A growing set of resources are compiled and updated on a regular basis. In addition, IMT is available to answer individual questions. Contact us at imtweb[at]

Need more info? Get in touch!

Senior Director, Policy & Regulatory Strategy